If an armed intruder entered your facility, would you know what to do? What if someone fell on a slippery walkway outside your building and threatened a lawsuit? Some situations are out of your control, but many aren’t. That’s why comprehensive safety plans are a huge asset.
Thinking about how to handle possible scenarios your organization may face and developing preventive measures can significantly reduce risk. “It’s important to have planned responses, not knee-jerk reactions, for emergency situations,” says Eric Spacek, director of risk management and loss control at GuideOne Insurance.
With the new year just around the corner, now is a good time to create a safety plan or revisit an existing one. “Factor in current events and evolving risks when working on your plan,” Spacek says. Another smart move? Use the EFFECT® framework – and considerations for each topic – to organize your plan and cover your bases:
Emergency preparedness — You can make scary situations more manageable by planning for crisis scenarios such as arson and fire, church violence, medical emergencies, severe weather and disaster relief.
• Develop a crisis communication strategy that includes media outreach, facility closing announcements and emergency phone numbers
• Train leaders, staff, ushers, greeters and anyone who works with children on emergency response
• Clearly mark all exit routes and conduct regular evacuation drills
• Regularly inspect walking surfaces and correct fall hazards such as debris, cracks and potholes
• Create facility usage policies to hold outside users of your organization accountable
• Always lock doors and windows when the building is unoccupied
• Hire licensed and/or certified professionals to inspect electrical, fire prevention, and heating and cooling systems and make repairs
Financial safeguards — Set guidelines on how to collect, count, deposit and report finances.
• Train ushers on how to take the collection and keep it safe. Lock up cash.
• Maintain separation of duties between the ushers, counters, financial secretary and treasurer
• Schedule an impartial, scheduled audit of your books
• Track and log all accounts and keep financial records secure
Employee and volunteer safety — Training and communication are essential to protecting staff – and your organization – from on-the-job liability.
• Create an employee handbook with employment policies and practices
• Establish a social media policy that defines what is acceptable and the consequences for violating rules
• Articulate policies that define what constitutes sexual harassment – and that harassment will not be tolerated
• Require that volunteers sign liability release forms before participating in higher-risk activities such as disaster relief efforts and mission trips
Children and youth safety — Protecting children starts with staff screening and continues with providing a safe environment for learning and play.
• Hold all activities for children in central, highly visible locations
• Train all employees and volunteers on how to properly work with children and adolescents
• Gather completed consent forms, such as “Participation Authorization” and “Consent to Emergency Medical Treatment,” from parents
Transportation safeguards — Help members, employees and volunteers get to and from their destinations safely with regular vehicle maintenance and approved, experienced drivers.
• Pre-select and screen all drivers
• Conduct pre- and post-trip inspections on all vehicles
• Equip vehicles with safety equipment and accident reporting kits
• Communicate trip safety procedures to participants before each departure
• Require that seat belts be worn at all times
For more safety resources, visit GuideOne.com.